My mom forgot my son’s birthday. You read that right. She plain forgot. She does every year. She can remember my two daughters’ birthdays, but can never remember my son’s. I hate it, and I hate the sadness that it brings. I watch him get excited for the mail to come, and each day that ticks by after his birthday, he gets sadder and sadder. Usually the card will come a week or two later, preceded with a phone call from her saying she’s sorry she forgot.
This year was different. You see, my son turned 11, and isn’t a little kid anymore. He is wiser than in previous years, and is definitely more observant. This is my polite way of saying, he isn’t stupid. He noticed right away that no card came from my mom. I kept reassuring him that “I’m sure something is on the way,” but, like my son, I knew nothing was coming. She called and apologized for forgetting his birthday again. She even commented about how it is so strange that she forgets just his birthday, and not the girls’. It is frustrating to me, as I cannot understand how hard it is to write a date on the calendar as a reminder.
My son told me how he remembered my mom had sent my oldest $50 for her birthday, and that my youngest also got $50 for hers this year. He remembers what they were sent. What am I to do? My mom is not sending him anything at all. She just got him an apology. He told me he thinks that she doesn’t really care about him as much as his sisters, and that just tears my heart apart.
You see, it isn’t about the gift itself. It’s not about the money he didn’t get, or the card that didn’t come. It is about the time that it takes to remember your grandchild’s special day. The day they were born. The day that they truly became a member of our family, and the way that you celebrate this gift. I am saddened at the way I have to constantly try to ease the blow of her forgetting him, and this year I didn’t do it. I told him that she is in the wrong, and it isn’t ok to treat people you love this way.
When I was a child, my mother’s parents treated me the same way. They spent time with me when it was convenient for them. They remembered my birthday when it fit into their schedules. Sometimes I got Christmas gifts from them, but most Christmas Days came and went without even a phone call. They made a lunch date with me once when I was 13. I was so excited to get to spend time with them! They never showed up. They just didn’t show. I was heart broken, and when I got home, I called them. My grandma said they had gotten busy, and forgot to call. I was crushed. The final straw for me is when my high school graduation rolled around.
They called to tell me they weren’t coming to my graduation. I told them I was hurt. They had made the effort to go to other grandchildren’s graduations (before and after mine might I add). My grandfather told me I was being selfish, and said some pretty hurtful things to me. I finally blew up at him, and told him how all the years of broken plans and forgotten days had hurt me so. He said he was not going to speak to me anymore……and he didn’t. He died two days before my wedding (I was 26), and I told him good bye over the phone while he was unconscious on life support, with my mother by his side. I told him I forgave him, and sorry we weren’t better as a grand-daughter and grandpa should be.
I see the cycle starting again with my mom and my son. It hurts because I totally feel my son’s sadness, hurt, and confusion. My daughters also empathize with my son. They consoled him, and tried to cheer him up. Some things just stick with you though. The pain still stings weeks, months, even years later. I am at a loss as a mother. I am at a loss as a daughter of the person hurting my child. I suppose the best we can do is teach our children how not to treat others. How to be mindful of the feelings of family members, and of all the people we encounter in life. It is my hope that they will become productive, caring members of this world in the years to come.